The decision to put a family member into a nursing home is difficult and often upsetting. Finding out they are suffering abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them can make you feel helpless. It’s often challenging to put together a case against a provider or facility unless you have solid proof.
The first step is recognizing the ways someone can be taken advantage of or mistreated. After that, a skilled nursing home abuse & neglect lawyer in Memphis can help you gather the critical evidence you need to support your claim. Let’s examine how to spot abuse and what you must do to secure justice for your family member.
There Are Many Kinds of Nursing Home Abuse
Most people think of physical harm when they think of nursing home abuse, but patients can also experience emotional, sexual, and financial abuse. Each has its own signs and will require different types of evidence to prove successfully. Sometimes, the patient will exhibit similar behavior due to their medical or mental condition, so it can be confusing trying to figure out if the signs indicate abuse.
In some instances, your loved one may need to be restrained for their own safety and that of others. They may even need calming substances such as sedatives to help them through the day. However, when you see signs of injury, such as cuts, scratches, bruises, broken or fractured bones, or dislocated limbs, it’s time to investigate.
Staff or medical providers who push, slap, kick, hit, or shove patients can easily trigger a fall or break fragile bones. Elderly adults or those with balance issues can suffer head trauma, adding to their medical concerns.
Even when providers do not physically harm a patient, they may engage in yelling, insults, screaming, or disrespect. All these can upset sick and elderly patients, who often already feel lonely or depressed. If a formerly happy and outgoing loved one suddenly becomes withdrawn and morose, you may need to probe into how they are treated when you aren’t there.
Shockingly, the World Health Organization reports that as many as 32% of nursing home staff reported emotionally abusing their patients.
Sexual abuse is reported less often than other forms of abuse, but this may be because it’s harder for family visitors to detect. Much like emotional abuse, patients may become withdrawn, or they may start behaving more erratically and lash out. Staff, providers, visitors, or even other residents may take advantage of patients who suffer from cognitive disorders or are unable to escape unwanted physical touch.
Your family member could be a victim of sexual assault, rape, sexual battery, and inappropriate contact. Patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia are especially prone to this abuse since they are often confused about when events occurred.
Many patients in nursing homes, especially those with memory issues, may experience financial abuse. They may become dependent on staff to help them manage their bills, or administrative staff for the facility could pad expenses to skim money from monthly fees. Staff, residents, or visitors may steal credit cards or checks to use for themselves.
Family members should put legal protections in place, such as a power of attorney document limiting who can make financial decisions on behalf of the patient. It’s also smart to store your loved one’s money and credit cards outside the nursing home, if possible. Monitor bank accounts and credit card statements for unusual activity and report theft to the local police.
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Nursing Home Neglect Isn’t Always Easy to See
It can be difficult to detect when your family member is a victim of nursing home neglect and needs you to step in to protect them. Even when a home meets the basic needs for food, water, shelter, and care, the patient could suffer abuse.
Remember that emotional abuse accounts for a third of all instances of mistreatment in these facilities. This psychological damage can affect your loved one’s quality of life.
Signs of physical neglect are easier to notice. When you visit your family member, check for signs of the following:
- Acting withdrawn or fearful around certain staff members
- Asking to go home or leave with you
- Burn marks
- Broken or fractured bones
- Changes in personality
- Mood changes
- Unexplained tenderness
- Weight loss or malnutrition
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Evidence to Help Your Prove Nursing Home Neglect
If you believe you have a case of nursing home abuse, it’s wise to schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse attorney. They can evaluate your circumstances and help you determine how to move forward.
In some cases, you can file a civil claim, such as a personal injury lawsuit. In other situations, a criminal case might be in order. Evidence that can support either of these kinds of claims includes:
- Birth certificates, marriage licenses, and other materials proving your relationship to the patient
- Files, charts, and records from the nursing home for the resident
- Insurance documents
- Medical records such as exams, treatment plans, and prescribed medications
- Photos, videos, and witness statements showing the neglect or abuse
- Receipts for injuries and losses associated with the abuse
Your attorney can help you gather additional materials and manage the legal complexities. An insurance claim or legal action could result in financial relief for injuries and damage your loved one suffered.
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Act Quickly to Report Nursing Home Abuse
The first thing to do when you discover your family member is suffering abuse is to gather whatever evidence you can, then report the situation to the correct authorities. After that, you should speak with an attorney right away to protect the victim’s rights.
There may be many parties at fault for the abuse, such as the individual staff members, physicians, nurses, the facility, and its parent company. A skilled nursing home abuse attorney will examine every avenue to determine how you can secure compensation and justice.
At a minimum, you should report the abuse to the local police and state agencies overseeing affairs for the elderly, such as Tennessee Adult Protective Services.
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Get Help Gathering Evidence to Prove Nursing Home Abuse
It can be confusing when you are unsure whether your loved one is being harmed in a facility you’ve trusted with their care. Those who have been abused in a nursing home should not be ignored. They deserve to have their rights and interests defended.
If you are unsure of where to start, contact the team at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC, to schedule a free initial case evaluation today.